Fordham statement on state board of education’s recommended changes to Ohio graduation requirements

The state board of education voted today to recommend that the General Assembly extend previously-relaxed graduation requirements for the class of 2018 to the classes of 2019 and 2020.

“Despite consistent feedback that too many Ohio high school graduates aren’t ready for credit bearing college courses and don’t possess the skills necessary to enter the workforce, the state board of education is once again recommending that the legislature walk back the requirements for high school graduation,” said Chad L. Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “What’s most disappointing is that this change is being recommended even though a significant majority of Ohio students have met the more rigorous graduation requirements.”

The most recent data released by the Ohio Department of Education projects that almost 77 percent of students in the class of 2018 are on track to meet graduation requirements.

Rather than earning a diploma by successfully passing end-of-course exams, achieving remediation-free scores on the ACT or SAT, or attaining an industry credential and demonstrating workforce skills, students in the classes of 2019 and 2020 would be able to graduate by completing two of nine tasks from a list which includes a 93 percent senior year attendance rate, holding down a part time job or a volunteer position for 120 hours, and earning a 2.5 grade point average in their senior year.

“While supporters of this change are likely to make this a referendum on testing, this is really a question of whether Ohio high school graduates should be able to demonstrate a basic level of competency in math, reading, science, and American history,” Aldis added. “This change is ostensibly being recommended to help struggling students, but it’s these very students who most need the academic skills that are supposed to accompany a diploma.”

The recommendation would need to be approved by the General Assembly and Governor Kasich before it can go into effect.